2020 has certainly not been the year that any of us expected, and we have all seen monumental changes in the way we live our lives day to day. Delivery of healthcare has seen a complete sea-change, with priorities inevitably evolving to cope with the overwhelming threat of Covid and the risks this poses to everyone, whilst still trying to maintain in and outpatient services for all the other medical needs of the nation.
According to data published by NHS England, during the first full month of lockdown in April this year, A&E visits were down 57% on the same month last year. Although this helped to ease the immediate pressure on the NHS at the time, we are now starting to bear witness to the longer term effects of this, as Covid-19 sadly did not stop the clock on other illnesses and medical emergencies. Public Health England statistics cite that between 23rd March and 10th July 2020 there were over 3,600 excess deaths from heart and circulatory diseases alone – and by “excess deaths”, they mean over and above what would be expected under ordinary circumstances for the same period of time. Tragically nearly half of those deaths occurred at home or in care homes, since the pandemic has made many people fear hospital or contact with others, and so they have delayed seeking treatment.
One of the wonderful things about developments in cardiovascular medicine over the years is that there is now so much that can be done by way of prevention and treatment, provided timely medical advice is sought. Like all healthcare facilities nationwide we have taken steps to make our practice as Covid-safe as possible so that patients can visit with confidence, and we are also offering remote consultations by phone and video for those who do not wish to visit in person.
Whilst we are still in the thick of Covid-19 it is easy to forget that cardiovascular disease continues to be the world’s biggest killer, so please do not delay if you have any concerns about your heart or cardiovascular system.